midlife, personal growth

Less Clutter, More Joy

a menopause midlife decluttering

Maybe it’s a (pathetic) sort of mid-life crisis, but I am hell-bent on removing clutter from my home!

I have never been happy about the clutter, but recently it’s been bothering me more than ever. It’s kind of like the polar opposite of the “nesting” instinct many of us felt when we were preparing for the arrival of a baby. Maybe this is an instinctual cleaning out of the soon-to-be-empty nest?

I don’t think that I am de-cluttering for “the end” of life (I’m not that dramatic!), but I do feel strongly that I’ve saved far too many things that I shouldn’t have, and for far too long.

I admit I have serious trouble letting things go.

The more articles I read about how a cluttered home can mess with my mojo, dampen my creativity, and even test what’s left of my sanity – the more I agreed!

So I decided to give Marie Kondo’s popular book the life-changing magic of tidying up” and give her Konmari Method a try. She writes about honoring our possessions, clearing out the items that no longer serve our current self and keeping only those things that “spark joy”.

The premise intrigued me and I thought it would be an interesting exercise at the very least. I went through my home as she suggests in the book, and held items I’ve had for years in my hands and asked myself if they honestly still sparked joy, I found the answer was frequently no.

I was surprised at how many of my clothes and belongings not only did not spark any joy, I actually disliked them with a degree of revulsion! So why was I keeping them? This forced a conversation with myself (I do that a lot).

The answer I came up with was fear and guilt.

Fear of later needing or wishing for the item I got rid of. Fear of not being able to afford that item again should I want or need it. Fear of the regret I might feel about giving the item away.

Guilt from not wanting to be wasteful by tossing things that were still in good condition, even if I no longer liked them or they didn’t fit my body or my life anymore. Guilt from not wanting to part with things that were given to me as gifts. That’s a big one. I felt that by getting rid of those gifted items, I was somehow hurting the person who gave them to me. Even though they would have no idea I had given them away.

Why on earth am I holding on to that pair of shoes from 1994 that I loved, but I will never wear again? Not only are they out of style, but three kids later my feet are a size larger. I will never wear them. Why am I keeping them?! Because they remind me of good times in my life, they are still in good condition, and it makes me feel guilty to “waste” them.

The difference now is that I realize the shoes and those reasons are no longer serving me. They are taking up prime real estate in my cluttered closet and tying me to the past instead of leaving me space for the present. It shouldn’t be such a struggle to let them go, but it is. There are too many items in my home like these shoes. No longer serving me or my present life. No longer sparking joy.

Well, NO MORE. It’s time to say goodbye.

So in accordance with the Konmari Method, I held them in my hands, thanked them for the good times (she calls it “their service”) and LET. THEM. GO.

Thanking an inanimate object for having served you sounds a little silly, but it actually felt really good. Try it!

I have donated the shoes and many other items to goodwill and various charities in the hope that they go on to spark joy for someone else. (And if they end up in a dumpster, at least I won’t have the guilt of throwing them out myself.)

“I am convinced that putting your house in order will help you find the mission that speaks to your heart. Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.” – Marie Kondo

Wow! Wish I hadn’t waited until my fifties to get serious about putting my house in order!

My home is still more cluttered than I’d like, but as with other goals in my life, it is a work in progress. I’m slowly learning to finally let that sh*t go.

Cheers to less clutter and more joy in Chapter Two!

– Marlene

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2 thoughts on “Less Clutter, More Joy

  1. It feels wonderful and freeing to let things go, they can be an invisible burden. I take photos of certain sentimental items and file the photos in a folder before I toss the items.
    Less is more.
    Great column Marlene!

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